Helllooooooo internet world. I hope you’re having a lovely week and a great Wednesday so far. I’m a bit bummed today — it’s snowing here in the DC area, meaning that the public schools are delayed, meaning that it was for some reason a lot harder to find a substitute teaching job this morning, so I’ve been stranded at home — there’s $100 down the drain. I’ve been stressing a lot about money lately, which has made me stress a lot about being an adult one day — like a real, financially-independent adult. Lord help us all when that day actually comes.
But my bad luck is your good luck — you get a blog post today! With a lot of photos, which I know you illiterate swine crave! 🙂
On my penultimate weekend in Europe I traveled to Belgium — again. Remember this blog post? When I said that I’d be seeing Belgium again? Well, I wasn’t kidding.
For some reason I really connected with Belgium while I was there and absolutely fell in love with it. I couldn’t wait to go back and knew that I had to seize my chance while I was still in Europe — who knew when I could visit again after returning to the US?
So I made plans to meet my friend Lauren in Brussels for a long weekend.
I left on Wednesday night after classes and flew there by myself (using RyanAir, which was a nightmare, ugh). I was really nervous about traveling there by myself because I was arriving in the middle of the night (~1:30am) and I’m a young girl with no French or Dutch skills whatsoever (besides the broken French I’ve learned with Duolingo). However, besides the fact that it was about 2 degrees out, the arrival to the hostel went smoothly.
I woke up the next morning ecstatic — I was in Brussels again! I absolutely couldn’t wait to start my day and visit all the places I hadn’t been able to last time (we were only in Brussels for a day).
I started by walking into the center, and was immediately surprised by how well I remembered the city — I hardly needed my map! I strolled through the center, went through a couple of book shops, and headed to the Museum of Musical Instruments.
Unfortunately most of the signs for the instruments and history were in French/Dutch, but I had a lot of fun listening to all the music on the audio guide and checking out their amazing exhibit on the Saxophone.
I then made my way to Grand Sablon (all from memory, thank you very much!), did a bit of window shopping, then hit up Moeder Lambic, the really cool beer bar that I went to last time. Update on Moeder Lambic: the bartenders as still just as cute, friendly, and helpful. I had a couple beers whilst writing and staying warm, and then headed out to catch my second look of Manneken Pis, which did not get any less ridiculous the second time. Oh, I also had some frites. But, I mean, that’s a given — I thought you’d just assume that.
I did a bit of souvenir shopping and spent way too much money (but what else is new, let’s be real) and then walked over to Grand Place, where there was a light show going on for Christmas! Now, if there are two things I love in this world, they’re colored lights and Christmas. I stood amongst the equally-excited tourists and watched for quite a while and then walked back to the hostel to read and wait for Lauren to arrive. We got dinner and then went to bed pretty early as she was tired from traveling.
We started the next day with a walking tour of the city — which was super helpful and really fun. We learned a lot about the history, culture, and layout of the city, all of which helped us get around a lot better (although, I was already a pro). We then headed to the Manneken Pis area to get some waffles.
Now, let me tell you something about Lauren. She loves waffles.
We had a plan to try as many waffles as we could in a row to be compare the different shops and decide which one had the best (look, when waffles are one euro, YOU CANNOT SAY NO).
Unfortunately, we got full after 2. So. That was a bust.
We then walked around the Christmas markets a bit and the rest of the city (unfortunately, this is where the photos start dwindling — I get distracted around friends!). Then we headed over to our Air BnB, where 3 of Lauren’s friends from Prague were to meet us. When they did arrive we all cleaned up and went out to get some frites, walk around the markets some more, and get beer. Went went to an Irish bar called Celtica (where we saw a woman pass out from drunkenness as 6pm) and then went to Delerium, the world-record holding bar with over 3000 beers on tap. To be honest, it didn’t really live up to the hype … everything was expensive and there were FAR too many people there. 0/10 would not do again.
The next day we went to Bruges, a little village about an hour outside of Brussels. Bruges was absolutely beautiful — it reminded me of Hogsmeade from Harry Potter — but ridiculously crowded. EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER decided to take a trip to Bruges that day — which, looking back, made a lot of sense seeing as it was a Saturday and 3 weeks form Christmas. Regardless, we had a fun time watching people fall on the ice skating rink, buying useless stuff at the Christmas markets, eating good food, and riding the Ferris wheel. That night we bought some groceries and made pasta for dinner. And the next day we headed to the airport.
Boom. Done. 5 days gone.
I honestly don’t know what it is about that country (Brussels specifically), but for some reason it’s really got a hold on me.
Rating (out of 10): 10, of course!
Would I go again? Yes. Duh. All the duh.
Best part: The vibe. I don’t know man, I love it.
Worst part: The cold. Especially after having come from Sevilla. And don’t expect people to be super nice to you. Especially after having come from Sevilla.
Overall impressions: One of my favorite cities ever. Very easy to navigate. A lot to do. Cool, alternative people. Good beer. Pretty buildings. I’ve lost my ability to construct sentences because I love this place so much. I think I like Brussels so much because you can really get a sense of the people and see how people live and work there — unlike other cities like Granada or Lisbon, where the city is much more of a travel destination rather than a … well … a home.